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What is brown, scratchy, and absolutely necessary to have in your toolbox? Sandpaper!!

The problem is, it can be confusing. With so many options on the type of product, the level of grit, and the different uses, I’m often found in the sandpaper aisle at my local hardware store starting off into space.

So here is a quick guide created just for you to help you make a decision on what you need at-a-glance!

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First, a little about sandpaper and its properties. Sandpaper is made of abrasive materials like aluminum oxide or garnet that are glued on a paper backing.  These minerals have sharp points or edges. That’s why sandpaper is considered a cutting tool.

When you push sandpaper across a piece of wood, tiny shavings are cut out of the surface. These shavings are called swarf.

The secret to getting good results is to choose the right product and grit for the job at hand.

What do the numbers mean?

Knowing what grit to start with and when to stop is the key to a perfect sanding job. Starting with too coarse a grit leaves deep scratches that are tedious to sand out. But starting with too fine a grit eats up time and paper, as does finishing up with a finer paper than is necessary for the job.

Sandpaper is measured by its grit size, or number of sharp particles per square inch of sandpaper. The larger the grit size, the more edges there are and the smoother the sandpaper. The density of the grit is important, too. Open-coated sandpaper has gaps between the grits, allowing sawdust to gather so it doesn’t interfere with the sanding, whereas closed-coated sandpaper doesn’t have those open spaces.

Here is a handy dandy guide to help you out in the sandpaper aisle!

Image result for sandpaper grit guide

Sanding Sponges: Best for working in corners or contoured spaces.

Sanding sponges are ideal for sanding of wood, paint, metal, plastic and drywall surfaces.    When finished, simply rinse and reuse. Comfortable, flexible and convenient.

Sanding Sheets: Best for smoothing flat surfaces

The standard sheet of sandpaper is 9 by 11 inches. Sanding appliances often call for a fraction of a sheet, and the fractional sizes are available.

  • quarter sheets, 4½ by 5½ inches.
  • one-third sheets, 3²⁄₃ by 9 inches.
  • half sheets, 5½ by 9 inches.

3M Flexible Sandpaper

3M Flexible SandpaperGet your hands on 3M™ Ultra Flexible Sanding Sheets and Rolls. With synthetic minerals, strong resins and an innovative film backing, they’re perfect for spindles, trim and other hard-to-reach areas — to get the job done. The tough backing resists punctures, tears and creases, helping the sheet keep its original shape. For the best results, sand with the grain of the surface and work through a sequence of grits, from coarse to very fine, skipping no more than 1 grit between each sanding step. Rolls are sold in 100, 150 and 220 grit. Sheets are sold in 100, 150, 220 and 320 grit.

Norton SandWet 1500 Wet/Dry Sandpaper

Use Norton’s SandWet abrasives with water, oil, or use them dry to smooth surfaces and impart your finishes with an even luster ranging from satin to high gloss. They are ideal abrasives for glass plate sharpening, and are well-suited for sanding primer, sealer, varnish, lacquer, enamel, and other coatings. The 5-sheet packs are shipped in protective job pack dispensers that provide neat storage.


  • Waterproof wet/dry sandpaper for sanding finishes, topcoats and polishing
  • Sharp silicon carbide abrasive can be used dry, or with water or oil
  • A-weight paper backing

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